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BrooklynQ
05-13-2006, 02:23 PM
On 'cue

Teams fire up a friendly competition

By Penelope M. Carrington
Times-Dispatch Staff Writer

John "Big Daddy" Richardson knows barbecue. Yes, it’s been his livelihood since 1996 at Big Daddy’s Barbecue & Ribs on Jahnke Road. But, Richardson’s study of the regional variations in the taste, style and preparation of barbecue dates back to his 17 years behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer.

"Whenever I’d see what looked like a good barbecue place on the side of the road and whenever there was room to park the truck, I’d try and get in there," Richardson said Friday, just after closing his restaurant for the night.

"If [the barbecue] was good, I’d try and get in the kitchen" to see how it was made, he said.

The self-appointed apprenticeship helped Richardson develop expertise in his restaurant’s signature dishes: North Carolina pork, Texas beef, Memphis-style ribs and Virginia chicken.
Come Saturday at the Richmond International Raceway Complex, the barbecue veteran and longtime musician will put his seasonings where the judges’ mouths are when he enters his first barbecue competition.
The Virginia National Backyard Barbeque State Championship will pit Richardson and his wife and business partner, Gail, against 34 teams from across the state and beyond. Sponsored by Seagull Promotions & Entertainment, the daylong event includes barbecue (of course), dancing (to work off all that barbecue) and other entertainment. Some proceeds also will benefit the area nonprofit organization Stop Child Abuse Now.
On the line for competitors like Richardson: $10,000 worth of prize money and proof of their pride in their skills.

"Not to blow our own harmonica, but we feel we have a superior product in Richmond and now is the time to see how we compete against the big boys," said Richardson, who will leave at least some of the cooking to wife Gail when his band, The Backscratchers, performs.

"We want to get bragging rights and be the state champions."
First, however, Richardson will have to perfect recipes for chicken and spareribs. The competition calls for styles not on Big Daddy’s menu. Other competition categories are beef brisket and pork shoulder/Boston butt.
The results will be judged on, among other things, appearance, texture, taste and aroma. It seems simple, but if it were, it wouldn’t be a competition. And, it wouldn’t need to be sanctioned by the International Barbecue Cookers Association.

Then again, this ain’t your typical restaurant barbecue.
The competitors say that the cuts of meat come from different from what they usually serve or are thicker and thus, have a tendency to be tougher. Marinades aren’t allowed, so everyone starts with the raw deal. Charcoal and wood are the only fuels allowed.

"That’s even more of a challenge to deal with [because] of the potential to flare up and not getting your coals up to temperature or getting it up too hot so you burn your product," Richardson said.

Oh, there’s one other thing. Sauces are served on the side.
"A lot of people ask, ‘What sauce do you use?’ But it’s not about the sauces. It’s the flavor of the meat that’s what’s important," said Kim Walker.

The Midlothian resident and co-captain of the "Smokin’ Away Again in Porkaritaville" team would know. She and her boyfriend, David Mowrer, have been competing in and winning barbecue competitions since 2003.
It was their most successful year. They won several awards including a state grand championship in New Holland, Pa. They also earned an invitation to the coveted Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue. There, Walker’s team placed second in brisket and eighth overall out of more than 500 teams.

Walker said they did it using ceramic-tiled Kamado Cookers that stand more than 5 feet tall, hardly the traditional grill.

"It made sense because it’s well-insulated so the meat doesn’t dry out," said Walker, whose first cooking job was helping her parents stir Jell-O when she was a toddler.

Julia Child later became the TV cooking mentor of the former backyard barbecuer who so wanted to compete, she flew to another state for a cooking class held in the parking lot of a microbrewery.
"I was the only woman and when I pulled into the parking lot, I was intimidated for about half a second. Then I thought, ‘They’re just barbecuers, how bad could they be?’¤" Walker said.

Then, and time and again since then, the barbecue community has proved to be anything but cutthroat.

"People don’t go around trying to sabotage another team. If anything, we bend over backwards to help out people," she said.
Teams have shared advice and extra meat when others found theirs had spoiled, Walker said. They’ve replaced entire set-ups, from chairs to supplies, when one team had everything stolen the night before a competition. Some, including Walker, shared their grills so the team could still compete. Thanks to the help, Walker said the team placed in at least one category.

"It’s Southern hospitality, except not everyone [in the competition] is Southern," she said.

Contact staff writer Penelope M. Carrington at pcarrington@timesdispatch.com or (804) 649-6027.

Sawdustguy
05-14-2006, 12:22 AM
Then, and time and again since then, the barbecue community has proved to be anything but cutthroat.

"People don’t go around trying to sabotage another team. If anything, we bend over backwards to help out people," she said. Teams have shared advice and extra meat when others found theirs had spoiled, Walker said. They’ve replaced entire set-ups, from chairs to supplies, when one team had everything stolen the night before a competition. Some, including Walker, shared their grills so the team could still compete.

"It’s Southern hospitality, except not everyone [in the competition] is Southern," she said.


That why we at Two Fat Polocks BBQ enjoy competing so much. We are always so impressed with the comradrie between teams. It makes us proud to be a part of it.